Here it is. I can write to my heart’s content meeting and surpassing deadlines if it is for someone else. In fact, it is one of my writerly strengths to submit a piece days before it’s due. But my own work? Sadly, still sitting untouched in Google Drive.
I know that writers need a break. I understand that paid work feeds the hungry writer. But the idea that I’ve let this dream of mine slide eats away at this writer’s soul. It makes me feel like a failure and a fake. I see successes like hers and a pulsating thought rises in my thoughts, “You’ll never make it.” And it’s hard not to listen to that one. After all, a story doesn’t write itself.
In the lifetime that I’ve written I built an impressive graveyard of untouched, unfinished stories. I’ve always visited them respectfully, mourning their lost. But I’ve also done so with great pride for the attempts I made believing they were little souls that helped me grow, but were not ready for the world. It’s hard to keep telling myself this, however, when my priorities have slipped.
How does a writer keep themselves fueled and motivated when the desire to make money overtakes inspiration?
This quote from first time novelist Ayana Mathis helped me. Maybe it will help you too:
“When you’re working on a project for months and months—whether it’s a book or anything else that requires a sustained effort—it’s easy to get discouraged. The rewards are few, and you feel as if it’s never, ever going to be done…Acquiring any skill is like this: You make a little progress; then you lose ground; then you make a little more progress. Accepting the fits and starts is the only way to keep yourself from giving up.”
It’s a desire to keep going once we stopped that helps us through the periods of procrastination. It’s not stopping that makes us failures. It’s not even an end. It’s simply a pause. As we have all learned and grown in the process of building our freelance writing careers, it takes time. It takes courage. And it means not beating ourselves up when we fall. Because we all do. Every successful writer does. That means if you’ve briefly paused, you’re still in the running fellow writer. Don’t give up!